(I originally wrote most of this as a comment at TSK, but I decided to make it my first GABA FanPost. Thanks for any feedback)
Attention Dan Beebe. This is your Guardian Angel. College football is in danger. Your conference is in danger. Heck your job is in danger. Act now. Save CFB! Save the Big XI!. Save yourself! Here is the plan. Don't wait another minute.
1. Convene the Presidents and have them authorize immediate bids to TCU and Boise State - they will say yes right away. They crave BCS conference membership with every fiber of their being and TCU's Big East experiment was always misbegotten. Right now they are top football programs. We all know they will fall back to earth eventually and return to their doormat status. But that is in the future. Now they have football cachet. They don't do a damn thing for basketball but that is of zero concern. Football is king. Tell the Presidents you don't give a fig about their academics and neither should they. Now they are valuable television commodities and if the Big XII doesn't get a TV deal, then most of them will be wandering in the wilderness for the next generation. Exploit TCU and Boise now. TCU is a replacement for Texas A&M. Boise replaces Nebraska. This makes so much sense I can't believe you've waited this long.
2. Get the presidents to also authorize BYU. If BYU has any sense, they'll realize this is *not* the time to be an independent, unless they want to see themselves lose permanent ground to the Utes. BYU's football tradition speaks for itself. Give BYU a week to think it over. If the Cougars say no, then immediately offer either Colorado State or the US Air Force Academy. Sonny Lubick's old team is down, but you've got to think CSU will jump -and you get the added bonus of sticking it to the disloyal Buffs; imagine the horror in Boulder when CU is not the only BCS-eligible team in the Centennial State. If the Presidents are balky about CSU's academics, then Air Force's reputation speaks for itself, plus the Falcons traditionally play the best ball of the service academies - the Presidents cannot seriously say no to that. No matter what, you need a team to replace Colorado - either in the Centennial State or in the Beehive State. It doesn''t matter who. But it must happen now. The Big XII must get back to 12 members so that it can have a championship game and this is the easiest solution to a viable northern division; the fact the north is so wide open will be attractive to hold Mizzou (who covets a B1G membership that may never come this go-around) and maybe, just maybe be attractive for ...
3. Notre Dame. Yes I know they've said no a few weeks ago, but then you really haven't made the hard sell, and now the Big East is disentegrating before their eyes. This is the big prize. Land the Irish and all is forgiven You must begin public courting now. Tell the Domers that they'd be a great fit. Everyone knows the Irish will ultimately need a conference home - they just can't do it on their own anymore. Sell them on the entree it gives to Texas recruiting, in addition to their national recruiting. You can sweeten the deal by getting the members to agree to give ND a Texas-like revenue split. Notre Dame offers immediate football cachet. Huskers? I hardly knew ye. Tell them how wide-open the North Division is. Once Boise State returns to earth (not long after Kellen Moore is drafted next year and/or Chris Petersen takes the big $$$ somewhere) they would dominate Boise, KU, KSU, ISU. With a conference schedule like that, they can still play B1G schools on a regular basis. Offer them a full non-football membership and tell them you will hold a 14th football slot just for them. Even if the Irish say no, you've lost nothing.
4. If the Irish say yes to full membership or partial membership then offer Rice or Houston. I’d vote RIce because every football conference needs a top flight academic school that has de-emphasized big-time football but still desperately craves to beat the big boys at their own game (e.g., Vandy, Northwestern, Stanford). Houston is probably more realistic from a revenue standpoint. But Cougar High was always a johnny-come-lately to the old SWC. Under this scenario you have a North Division consisting of Boise, BYU, Mizzo, ISU, KU, KSU and maybe the Irish; the Southern Division is UT, TT, BU, TCU, Rice (or Houston), OU and OSU - nothing changed here except TCU replaces A&M and you've added a Houston-market school.
5. Go to Austin. Tell UT what everyone knows - their overreach has put them in danger of losing one of the sweetest deals in CFB . Remind them that the PAC will force them to leave a conference schedule based heavily in the Lone Star State (comfort zone!) and travel across three time zone and 2/3 of the continent; plus they will not get to dictate the money and they certainly won't get to keep their network. Frankly, I don’t think UT wants to go to the Pac-12/16 unless its forced to (though I could be wrong). Let the Horns save face. Tell them that they can keep their network and their split, especially if they help land Notre Dame, but to stay put.
6. If the Irish rebuff you, but you've kept Texas and OU, then don't sweat. Go to 14 by picking up not only TCU, Boise and BYU, but offer USAFA and Rice or Houston (or both if BYU said no). Sweeten the deal for OU and OSU by offering to move them out of UT's division, so that they can play for the Big XII championship. UT will like that just fine, since it means they can drop the Red River Rivalry game but still play for the championship. If you don't want to cal the new divisions North and South, then call them East and West. Or Southwest and Northeast. Or Cactus and Prairie Dog. I don't care. Make one division: UT, TT, BU, TCU, BYU, USAFA and Boise. Make the next division: OU, OSU, Mizzou, KU, KSU, ISU and Rice (or Houston). Mizzou will bitch about getting stuck with the two Sooner State schools, but tell em to shut their yaps - if the B1G wanted them, they'd already have called. That phone ain't ringing. Deal.
Either way, this plan saves the Big XII. Either the old Northern and Southern Divisions are re-instituted or there are new divisions that make immediate sense. Either you land the 800 lb Marlin that is Notre Dame, or at least you can say you made a reel effort (ok bad pun) to catch them. Regardless, you now have a 13 or 14 team conference with teams in or near Houston, Dallas-Fort Worth, Salt Lake City and Denver, with national powers Texas and Oklahoma still in the fold, and maybe just maybe you've got Notre Dame (even if for non-football only).
The big question, Dan, is whether you've got the gumption to do it? Right now Mike Slive, Larry Scott and Jim Delaney are killing you, and John Swofford is out-hustling you. It's do or die time. Be a hero or be a footnote.